Venerable Yifa


Venerable Dr. Yifa, PhD is a Taiwanese Buddhist nun, scholar, and writer. Ordained in 1979, Yifa holds a law degree from the Taiwan National University, a Master's in Comparative Philosophy from the University of Hawaii and a doctorate in religious studies from Yale University. She has been the Dean at Fo Guang Shan Buddhist seminary to provide the education and training to monastics and served as a department head and dean of University of the West in Los Angeles during her tenure at the college. Besides these long term services, Yifa has been a lecturer at Boston University, a faculty member at National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan and taught at McGill University as the Numata visiting professor in the spring of 2005. 

Venerable Yifa’s main area research is on Buddhist monasticism and she is the author of The Origins of Buddhist Monastic Codes in China, published by Hawaii University Press in 2002.

Yifa has also been involved in translating sutras from Mandarin to English. Since 2006, she and others have published translations of the Heart SutraDiamond SutraKsitigarbha SutraAmitabha Sutra and more. Yifa also wrote the works dealing with social issues Safeguarding the Heart—a Buddhist Response to Suffering and September 11 in 2002; reprinted as The Tender Heart in 2007; Authenticity— Cleaning the Junk: A Buddhist Perspective in 2007; Discernment—Educating the Mind and Spirit in 2009. She is also co-author of Benedict’s Dharma: Buddhists Reflect on the Rule of Saint Benedict (2001), by Riverhead, NY; a contributor to the books The Gethsemani EncounterThe Buddha’s Apprentices, and Women Practicing Buddhism: American Experience, the latter edited by Peter Gregory and Susanne Mrozik.

Yifa has participated in many interfaith dialogues such as the Gethsemani Encounter, and contributed to the UNICEF South Asia's Safe Motherhood Project. She has been granted numerous awards including “the Ten Outstanding Young Persons” in Taiwan in 1997, “Outstanding Women in Buddhism Award” in 2002 bestowed by the UN in Bangkok, and 9th annual “Juliet Hollister Award” in 2006 which was granted at the United Nations New York Headquarters, for her contribution to World Peace and Interfaith Education.

Venerable Yifa now is an independent scholar. In 2002, she established the Woodenfish Project to conduct the “Woodenfish Monastic Life Program” for college students to experience the monastic life in Taiwan, China and South Kirea, as well as “Connecting to the Origins—Buddhist Seminars in Sacred Sites” including China and Pakistan for scholars and graduate students. In recent years, the Woodenfish Project has developed more programs between Asia and the West, such as “Buddhism Science and Future” to bring dialogue between scientists, scholars, and practitioners, “World CitiZen” to educate teenagers. The Woodenfish recently co-organizes a new project on Buddhist Voice on Climate Crisis with Buddhadoor and Sumeru Publication in 2022 and works with Amitofo Care Center on a field trip study on “Humanistic Buddhism” in Africa in 2023. 

The Woodenfish Foundation, served as Woodenfish Project branch in American, has received the special consultative status for Economic and Social Council at United Nations in 2016, then be able to create programs like “United Nations Internship” for Youth leadership and “UN Women conference participation” for women’s voice. In 2023, the Woodenfish was assigned to be the site of field education for chaplain at Harvard Divinity School.

Venerable Yifa is currently affiliated with Asia Center at Harvard University as an Associate to seek more collaboration with academic worlds to create education and training projects for Buddhist leaders. 

Harvard University's Asia-Related Resources